“You might say we are awash in definitions of the essay and essays themselves, or to mis-paraphrase Wallace Stevens, ideas about the thing as well as the thing itself.” On The Making of the American Essay, the third and final volume of John D’Agata’s A New History of the Essay.
Out this week: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff; The Blue Guitar by John Banville; Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt; Sweet Caress by William Boyd; The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck; The Marvels by Brian Selznick; Scrapper by Matt Bell; and The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
The Guardian published a couple of fun pieces earlier this week. The first is a hilarious excerpt from Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters. The second is a collection of the top ten most memorable meals in all of literature.
Wes Anderson really likes trains, and not just any trains — the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is a big fan of riding on Amtrak. “It’s one thing to be stuck together for the long haul to New Zealand in the upper deck of a 747 for 16 hours,” he told a writer for the company’ s blog, “but it’s an altogether different matter to hit the dining car three meals a day for two and a half days running onboard the Southwest Chief.” This may be a good time to read our own Nick Ripatrazone’s essay on writers and trains.
“In the end, no special effects, dazzling displays, augmented realities, or multimodal cross-platform designs substitute for content. Scholarship, good scholarship, the work of a lifetime commitment to working in a field — mapping its references, arguments, scholars, sources, and terrain of discourse — has no substitute.” Johanna Drucker writes about both the importance and the inherent difficulty of scholarly publishing for the Los Angeles Review of Books.